Since its launch in Las Vegas in 2016, Shoptalk has quickly established itself as a must-attend event in the retail calendar. Ever since the announcement that one of our most loved conferences in the US would be making its European debut in Copenhagen, we’ve been excited to witness the industry come together to celebrate a fantastic year for retail in Europe.

On the 8th October, we set out with delegates from over 25 countries to hear from many of the world’s most innovative retail and technology businesses, for what promised to be an inspiring day. Here are the highlights we took away from the day, including inspiration from Alibaba, Feelunique and what they can tell us about the future of European eCommerce.

1. Embrace the marketplace model or risk irrelevance.

Napster representative, Cristina Berta Jones, spoke about the Evolution of Marketplaces. In recent years Marketplaces have evolved significantly and today are seen as the next big paradigm shift for eCommerce. Cristina predicts that marketplaces will be key to retail growth and every company from retailers to wholesalers and distributors must embrace this business model as part of their digital strategy, in order to stay competitive and relevant to their customers.

The message from Cristina was very clear that every company must become a marketplace destination. That’s what we like to hear!

2. Providing a seamless store and shopping experience

Alibaba’s European GM Terry Von Bibra sharing insights about the Chinese market. The sheer volume and scale of formats and initiatives Alibaba are testing is staggering, we learned that 1,400 local village businesses and counting are bringing eCommerce to many of the country’s disconnected consumers, providing a portal for them to sell their local produce nationally.

Terry explained, “Customers can go into a shop, order something online, get it delivered in a few days, or you can take the products you produce in your village and sell them online. It’s a long-term idea about how we can help the Chinese consumer in the rural world.”

3. Own the Customer, Own the Growth

Next up we heard from Luxury travel and suitcase manufacturer Tumi, whose Chief Customer Officer Charlie Cole discussed how brands can compete with Amazon.

By investing in great service, leveraging your store infrastructure and being innovative with merchandising strategies such as rewarding customers with early access to promotions - retailers can truly own the customer relationship.

In fact, this was a popular theme throughout the three days, where we heard how pureplay retailers are now opening their first stores and retailers like Nordstrom are re-inventing the role of the store with their latest showroom.

4. The relationship between brands and retailers is rapidly evolving

Our final highlight comes from Joël Palix, CEO of pureplay beauty destination Feelunique, who believes the growth of ecommerce in the health and beauty sector has a lot to do with stores failing to meet consumer’s needs.

Joel commented, “Very often with brand counters and brand sales assistants they are pressuring the consumer to buy their brand. Consumers today really want freedom. Freedom to choose products independently.”

For Joel, brands seeking to create a Direct to Consumer relationship is only natural. However pureplays like Feelunique will always have a unique advantage of being able to present a wider range of options, within each category.

As he explained, staying vertically-focused is the industry’s "best defence" against the likes of Amazon.

And there we have it, a great three days at Shoptalk Europe, it was refreshing to see such a strong focus on the power and potential of the marketplace model to disrupt the eCommerce industry and a tour de force for driving eCommerce growth.

As always, get in touch and tell us what you think about the future of the marketplace model and make sure to subscribe to get the latest news and insights.  

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